Wrestling’s return to Olympics a ‘relief’ for local wrestlers

Stacie Anaka headed to world wrestling championships, can now eye 2016 and 2020 Olympics

This week’s vote to keep wrestling in the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan is good news for wrestlers worldwide.

Saanich wrestling product Stacie Anaka is among that group. This week she’s in Hungary for the 2013 World Wrestling Championships in Budapest, Sept. 16 to 22.

The former Reynolds secondary and Victoria Bulldogs wrestling team member will compete in the worlds on Friday, Sept. 20.

Anaka, 26, is on an upward trend this season and a spot in the 2016 Olympics is beginning to look realistic. Fellow Canadian Carol Hunyh won medals in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, so if Anaka needed it, she has Tokyo as added motiviation.

She was recently bumped to fourth in the world rankings in her class thanks her gold medal in the 67-kilogram class at the Pan American Games in Panama in April and a bronze medal at the Universiade world university games in Kazan in July.

She wasn’t expecting to wrestle at the world championships this month as she was set on competing for Canada at the Francophone world games in Nice, France, Sept. 6 to 15.

A former teammate of Anaka’s at SFU, Michael Cappus, won silver at the 2010 CIS championships when Anaka won gold. Cappus is now helping coach Reynolds secondary with Josh Brakefield and Jedidiah Gordon.

He said wrestling’s “return” to the Olympics earlier this week is a huge relief.

“It’s restored my faith in the Olympic Games. (But) it’s a big positive for wrestling in general because it led to a reform of the FILA officials who were doing a poor job.”

Cappus is a national ranked wrestling official and noted that wrestling’s rules have changed quite substantially this year, although there are ongoing changes to the sport each year.

The matches should be faster, with less stalling, with a tweek to the scoring system to make it more understandable for spectators and more rewarding for wrestlers on the attack.

“It will take some getting used to but it should make it more entertaining for spectators who don’t know much of the sport,” Cappus said.

Longtime wrestling coach Ed Ashmore of the Victoria Bulldogs never lost hope that the sport he’s loved for 60 years would stay in the Olympics. During the past year Ashmore was outspoken on the issue, and it turns out he was right.

“They can’t take wrestling out. If you think they (were) mad about it here, they (were) going crazy in the Eastern countries who are so good at it.

“I just can’t see them actually taking it out,” he told the news often.